Rahm Emanuel could be credited for making the national Democratic Party's pact with the devil: Making it possible for a candidate to be endorsed by the national Democratic Party, and benefit from the national party's fundraising juggernaut, even if the candidate is opposed to one of the party's, up until then four decades' old core principles, a pro-choice position.
During Rahm's most recent tenure at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, progressive, pro-choice Democratic candidates got pushed aside in favor of sometimes-sort-of-anti-choice Democrats in thrall to business-as-usual, or Democrats who, just often enough, talked progressive talk, say, about their concern for cities, (let's get more police in the neighborhoods), or for women, (we really must find a cure for breast cancer), or for "minorities," (we really should create more college scholarships for all those worthy minority students).
Here are some other characteristics of these Rahmbo sorts of candidates:
· Forget women: Fighting for women's equality, if it means fighting for women's reproductive rights, (which it must, if it is to matter), is a loser.
· Focus on small issues: This is the best focus, because these issues are more winnable than the big ones, (even though the big ones are the ones that truly matter, most especially in times like these).
· Cave to the Ben Nelsons of the world, because, inside the Beltway any win is a win, (whether or not the win helps anyone out in the hinterlands in any meaningful way).
· Talk a lot about "fiscal responsibility," and your concern for the "middle class" (while you're raising millions from, and, thus, beholden to, Wall Street executives), and keep talking this way, even though the American middle class has pretty much disappeared, due to the decisions of those very Wall Street executives. [On this point, see yesterday's brilliant Bob Herbert column in the New York Times.
Well, this past week, the voters of Illinois, a bellwether state for the mood of the nation's voters (and for the mood of those who just don't bother to vote), rejected Rahmbo sorts of candidates.
Instead, the voters in the gubernatorial primaries nominated two certifiable outsiders, Bill Brady (R) and Pat Quinn (D); in the Democratic Primary for President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, (the 19th largest government in the United States), the voters nominated Toni Preckwinkle, an African-American, liberal, and ardently pro-choice feminist; in the Southwest Side heartland of Chicago's Democratic Party, they nominated Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a neighborhood community organizer who has fought party-business-as-usual for three decades; and, in one of the most important Illinois legislative districts, the north shore's 18th, home to hundreds of Barack Obama's big donors, the voters nominated Robyn Gabel, a radical feminist women's health activist, who never met a big issue she didn't like -- and fight for, just because it is the big issues that really matter.
In sum, and across the state, Illinois voters of a variety of stripes, Republican as well as Democrat, male as well as female, downstate as well as Chicago, old as well as young, African American and Hispanic as well as white, rejected status quo, centrist, don't rock the boat, corporatist insiders.
In fact, Illinois' Democratic Primary voters rejected Rahm's status quo solution so virulently they voted for a pawnbroker, (a profession which has got to be one of the most reviled in America), just because the pawnbroker said he would get them jobs.
How clear a message is all this about what voters really want?! In case you missed, it, the voters' message is: Change for me: Change that makes my life better.
Illinois' voters are America's voters. Massachusetts' voters are America's voters. New Jersey's voters are America's voters.
These American voters know that when the President cries for health care reform, nonstop, for a year, using up most of his political capital doing it, and then says: Never mind; I didn't really mean it; health care reform really isn't my top priority, well, then they know they are being played for fools, and, worse yet, played for fools when they're drowning without a lifeboat in sight.
Tea-party-time. Time to throw this candidate crew -- Rahm's and whoever's -- overboard. For voters aren't fools. Voters know exactly how much is wrong with America right now.
Voters know that the real wrongs, starting with the lack of jobs, can't be made right by small legislative fixes, or by behind closed doors deals with stick-up men, or by lowest common denominator compromises -- televised or not -- or by paying Wall Street executives tens of millions of dollars to stay in their jobs, (if I didn't know this was real, I'd think I was watching Moliere), or by an administration that can't shoot straight, and keep on shooting till the enemy is dead.
Tea party time, for the voters know right now there is no trickle down, tea or otherwise.
My favorite Illinois outlier victors, Preckwinkle, Garcia, and Gabel, are the canaries in this American coalmine. They know just how deep underground we really are. They know that shovels won't do, that only earthmovers will.
Rahm: Ditch the Rahmbo candidates, and, while you're at it, recommend to the President that he do the same. Why? Because we Illinois, and Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and everywhere-else, f-ing-smart, progressive activist voters know what really matters, and we know how to win elections that matter. Join us, and you'll learn how to win them, too.